The Dutch toilet – A typical Dutch thing?!

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The Dutch toilet. Dutch people are used to it. The fact is, they don’t even know they are using a ‘Dutch toilet’. It’s just a toilet.    

What most Dutch people don’t know is that this toilet is something typically Dutch.

For a lot of people coming to the Netherlands it’s an unpleasant surprise.

What is the typical Dutch toilet? 

The bowl has a unique shape which includes a sort of shelf, a little bit above the water level.

Or as one of the students says in the video, there’s an extra step, before the little pond at the bottom of your toilet.

What is it for?

As some foreigners know by now, one of the advantages is that you don’t get splatters on your bottom when the “message” falls into the bowl.

In addition, a flat shelf is useful for the elderly, children, the sick and the disabled. It allows an inspection, for example, if you are ill. The shelf is also very popular in nursing homes for the disabled and the elderly.

Why this is typically Dutch?

The reason is unknown.  We just taught this was the way to go.

Nowadays, this ‘flat flush model’ is generally experienced as a bit old-fashioned. Years ago, people didn’t have anything else, but now more ‘international’ toilets are installed, unfortunately.

Entering a Dutch toilet: what else can you expect?

A Dutch toilet usually has a several accessories, such as a toilet brush, a toilet roll holder and often also a small sink with hand soap and a towel.

About the toilet brush. Nobody really knows what the rules are for this object. In general, it’s not mentioned in daily life, standing and untouched (but still always wet) in the corner and while it’s the brush, it’s the least clean item in the room.

And last but not least. For many Dutch households it is customary to hang the birthday calendar in the toilet.

What can you say?

There are two words you can use in Dutch: de wc or het toilet. And sentences referring to this are quite direct in Dutch.

  • Waar is de wc? (Where’s the toilet? )
  • Ik ben op de zoek naar het toilet. (I’m looking for the toilet)
  • Ik moet even naar de wc. (I need to go to the toilet)
  • Mag ik even naar het toilet? (I’d like to go to the toilet)
  • Ik ben zo terug (I will be right back)

More direct and less used:

  • Ik moet plassen (I need to pee)
  • Ik ga even plassen (I’m going to pee)

Bart de Pau
online Dutch teacher & founder of the Dutch Summer School & Dutch Winter School